Network and Information Security Upgrade is under way

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2017

By McGill Reporter Staff

The Network and Information Security Upgrade is a McGill-wide initiative to enhance the University’s IT network and provide improved service to the community. The upgrade will take place in buildings and data centres throughout the Downtown, Macdonald and Gault Estate campuses over the next three years. This initiative will bring together the coordinated efforts of multiple teams across McGill.

The following provides context about the project, the benefits it will bring, and what’s coming next.

Why is the IT network important?

McGill’s IT network supports the University’s daily activities and systems essential to the organization. Our classroom technologies, email, public security and major research facilities are just a few of the functions that the IT network enables. The network supports not only the administrative life of McGill, but also the teaching, learning and research activities, by delivering content through the wireless network, online teaching and lecture recording.

Our IT network connects the McGill community with the world, and the world with McGill.

Why does the network need an upgrade?

This upgrade is essential in order to replace core technologies and obsolete hardware for which support is no longer available. Following the upgrade, the McGill IT network will be better protected against cyber-threats, provide better wireless access for mobile devices and have greater capability to sustain the University’s research growth.  In addition, the upgraded network will provide the foundation necessary for upcoming enhancements to McGill’s telecommunications system such as web conferencing, video conferencing and unified communications (voice-over-IP, chatting, etc.).

What are the benefits of the upgrade?

The upgrade will result in improved quality of service, security, and reliability for the McGill community:

  • Improved indoor and outdoor wireless service quality
  • Increased network speed and data transfer rates
  • Greater security for IT devices
  • Better speed, reliability and security of McGill’s data centres (for server hosting and enterprise applications)

What is the status of the upgrade and what’s coming?

  • In 2016, several IT equipment rooms hosting critical network equipment were renovated throughout downtown and MacDonald campuses.
  • In March 2017, following a thorough and competitive acquisition process, IBM (Cisco technologies) and CPU Design Inc. (HP-Aruba technologies) were awarded the contracts to purchase the network and wireless technologies required for the upgrade.
  • During summer 2017, the McGill Student Housing/Residences downtown, Macdonald Campus and Solin Hall all received a total Wireless network refresh, resulting in increased overall wireless coverage and network performance.
  • We have begun the upgrade of IT security tools. This change is critical to managing firewalls as well as the prevention and rapid mitigation of security vulnerabilities in the network.
  • The network upgrade deployment will continue over the next 3 years across all campuses, by building and district.
  • Activities will generally be scheduled outside of standard business hours to minimize disruption to the community. In cases where interruption of network services may occur during business hours, advance warning will be provided.
  • Stay informed of the project’s progress on the website: mcgill.ca/network-upgrade

Who is responsible for the project?

Network and Communication Services (NCS), within Information Technology Services (ITS), is responsible for this project.

As mentioned, this initiative impacts the entire McGill community. The project team is working closely with technical and other support staff across organizations to coordinate building-specific access and network upgrade activities. As the work progresses, communications will be sent to building occupants in advance to ensure they remain informed of activities affecting them.

McGill IT Services and the Network and Information Security upgrade project team look forward to bringing an improved network experience to the McGill community.

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